The future of work: Unions discuss new CBA strategies

Watch the video here.

“Begging or bargaining?” This was the question collectively asked by trade unionists who participated in BWI’s latest “Workers’ Voices” webinar last 9 November which tackled the future of wages and employment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Attended by more than 100 participants, the webinar showcased trade unionists from Sweden, Germany, Finland, the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Turkey, Namibia, Botswana, Poland, India and South Korea, who shared their strategies and experiences in negotiating for better wages and employment in the middle of the pandemic.  

BWI Deputy President and CFMEU National Secretary Dave Noonan, who moderated the discussion, said that with the intensifying unequal distribution of wealth which was made worse by the pandemic, revisiting collective bargaining strategies and imagining the future of jobs and wages under a global health emergency is important.  

This was seconded by Fredrik Oberg, a Swedish plumber who is a member of Byggnads. “We are currently in the middle of collective negotiations. However, our employers refuse to raise our wages, using the pandemic as a convenient excuse. We think this is absolutely ridiculous! Since the start of the pandemic, workers have put their lives at great risk by continuing with their work, particularly at construction sites. Of course we want to protect our jobs, but we also need fair wages,” he said.  

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson noted BWI affiliates’ strong interest to and participation in the webinar.  

“Our affiliates’ enthusiastic participation speaks of the importance of the topics that we have discussed. Our right to better wages and employment, through collective bargaining, is under threat. We cannot allow employers and governments to use the pandemic to deprive us of that right. We cannot allow this to continue,” Yuson said. 

The online event, which was the fourth installment to BWI’s webinar series, was streamed live on Facebook. It was viewed 1,400 times and reached 6,600 people.